Natural Hazard Reports are included in the disclosures when homes are bought and sold here in Silicon Valley. Those reports will indicate whether or not the property is located in areas with known natural hazards, including
- Flood Plains
- Liquifaction Zones
- Earthquake Fault Zones
- Unstable Soils Areas
But wouldn’t you like to know where those places are before ever writing an offer?
Many Silicon Valley Realtors utilize a tool that combines this natural hazard information with other boundaries that may be of interest to you, such as zip code lines, town boundaries, school district boundaries, district names within San Jose (like Berryessa, Cambrian Park, Evergreen, etc.) and so on. This is the Barclays Locaide and you can buy it online or in Realtor stores in the San Jose area. They arent cheap at just under $60, but they are extremely helpful and worthwhile for having a sense of where the issue areas are in Santa Clara County.
A quick disclaimer that this is not a substitute for getting a Natural Hazard Report and that this information is helpful but not guaranteed. For instance, the Shannon Earthquake fault is considered a minor fault (compared to the much larger San Andreas Fault, which runs through the Santa Cruz Mountains). There are places where geologists know that the Shannon Fault exists, and places where theres some guesswork. A few years ago, I sold a home on Serenity Court in the Almaden Valley area of San Jose, and it appeared that this property was on the Shannon Fault, But the NHD report came in as not on the fault! I phoned and spoke with a geologist, who explained that in some of these cases, the maps show the presumed course of the fault, but its not certain. Someone may have ˜connected the dots as it were.
For sellers, this is important to know too. If your home apperas to be in a liquifaction area or flood plain, you need to know that the public may be eliminating your home for that reason. If that is bad info, you need to get the word out so that buyers dont write off your home or worry about it when there may not be a concern. Or if your home is in a flood plain or fault zone, you need to realize it so that you get your home marketed appropriately, understanding that this could be impacting your market value.
This locaide is not available statewide, but is made county by county for the San Francisco Bay Area and is one of the best tools that real estate professionals have at their fingertips. When deciding where to buy a home, at the very minimum, ask your Realtor to have a peek at the locaide to see how close it is to these natural hazard zones. Youll find it a very helpful part of your research.